American Gods: Episode 6 Recap and Review

A leprechaun, genie and zombie walk into a bar…

Nope, this is not the opening line to some really lame joke told by your Trump loving uncle at that family Thanksgiving dinner you go to every year, whether you want to attend or not.

(Actually, I am giving too much credit to the Trump loving uncle, as I am sure he would be using terms way more offensive than genie, zombie or leprechaun.  Or he is just not literate enough to even come up with those terms, actually.  But I digress.)

No, the above actually just happened, on television at any rate.  And I got to watch it happen!

Yes, I am referring to the sixth episode of the awesomeness known as American Gods.

Although let me update that description a bit:

A really tall guy calling himself a leprechaun, although he is not exactly one, a gay Muslim smitten with his jinn lover and an asshole dead wife walk into bar…

Okay, that is much better!

And really, Mad Sweeney, the dead wife and the guy who had sex with a jinn and got a new life really did get together, and somehow ended up going on a road trip together, and they stopped at a bar that has brought really bad…luck…

(Well, someone had to say it!)

And you thought your family vacations were crazy!

Well, let’s tune into some craziness now, as in the crazy good show known as American Gods.

In other words, time to dissect and review episode 6, titled A Murder of Gods.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Season 1, Episode 5 Recap and Review

In every relationship, there comes a crossroads of sorts.

I call it the “for keeps” moment.

In other words, you decide if the relationship is something that is permanent, or just a temporary fling.

And that moment is something easily recognized, by most us.

It could be a look.

Or a piece of jewelry.

Or a Batsy reference…

(In case you forgot what blog this is.)

And this weekend, it happened to me.

I have entered into a permanent relationship.

It is for keeps.

I am no longer a free woman…

Well, at least on Sundays!

In other words, I consummated my relationship with American Gods this Sunday.

(I am allowed to date outside my marriage, as long as it is a TV show, DC character or movie.  What can I say, my husband is cool!)

The acting, writing and dialog in this episode made me fall head over heels.  And I want to solidify my commitment to this beautiful show, gorgeous on both the inside and outside.

So, American Gods, let me pop the question…

Will you…

Allow me to dissect and review you?  Forever and ever?

Til death (or cancellation, shudder) do us part?

I’m gonna take that as a yes…

So, I am down on one knee, and present you my recap and review of episode 5, titled Lemon Scented You.

And, as always:

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American Gods: Episode 2 Recap and Review

The history of America is a complex one.

People came from all over the world.

And contrary to popular Ben Carson opinion, many of these people did not come to America on their own accord.

In fact, violence and bloodshed are a large part of our history, for better or for worse.

This country was also built on the backs of vulnerable people, including women, children and slaves from Africa who were kidnapped and brought over to this country, in the name of making this country wealthy and powerful.

And of course, elements of all of these different cultures are now part of American culture.

We eat pasta.  That is Italian.

Some of us listen to jazz music.  Jazz music is something that can be traced back to African culture, and was brought over to this country by the non-immigrant folks, aka slaves.

Even if you watch a movie such The Avengers, there are references to Norse mythology, as characters such as Thor, Loki and Odin are based on gods from Norse mythology. In other words, Hulk’s “friend from work” is actually an immortal Norse god.  That must make for some interesting office dynamics!

But, back to my point.

This country owes a large debt to immigrants, along with African American slaves.

Chances are, something that catches your fancy can be traced back to an immigrant or possibly an African slave.

In fact, someone wrote an entire book about this phenomenon.

The name of the book is American Gods.

At it’s core, American Gods is a dark fantasy that gives us an interpretation of religion along the lines of “it’s real if you believe.”

American Gods also serves us to remind us how important immigration and slavery are to this country, and the large debt that this country owes to both.

Now, American Gods has been translated to the screen, so these ideas have come to life.  And what a glorious trip it has been, even though only two episodes have aired, so far.

So, here is the recap and review of the second episode, titled The Secret of  Spoons.

And, as always:

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My Top 10 Horror Movies

For many years, horror has been a big part of my life.

And for the record, I am not talking about my marriage to my ex husband…

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Actually, I don’t think I was married to a psychotic clown living in the sewers.  However, no one ever saw my ex and Pennywise in the same room, so this remains open to debate.

No, I am talking horror in books and in movies.

I am huge Stephen King nut and I have been reading his books off and on since I was twelve years old.  Twenty six years, for you nosy folks!

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Of course, Stephen King was not the only thing in my horror diet.  I love pizza, but I can’t eat that every day.  And I love Stephen King, but my literary diet does need at least some variety, lest I suffer from vitamin L deficiency (literary deficiency, for the uninitiated.)

So, I read other writers.  Joe Hill does nicely in a pinch.  And I’m not saying that just because I consider him to be The Master 2.0 (I may be just a little biased, but oh well.)

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And of course, Clive Barker, Michaelbrent Collings, Joseph Duncan and quite a few others supplement my literary diet quite nicely, so I don’t have to worry about any deficiencies.

I can also turn to the screen to pick up some variety too.  In other words, there’s always movies and television.

I will be an X Phile for life.  I also love Penny Dreadful and am still officially in mourning because the series ended earlier this year.

And horror movies.  Who can forget horror movies?

Is there a better way to spend an afternoon, or perhaps an evening, than watching a good horror movie?

Maybe you snuggle up to your man and bury your head on his chest when the scary parts come on, but still peek anyway.  Or maybe you just have dogs for company, although burying your head on a dog may end up squishing the dog instead.  Or result in said dog moving REALLY far away.  REALLY FAR, maybe as much as five feet away from you!

Watching horror movies is fun.  The adrenaline rush is fun.  And horror movies tend to have some comedy in them, so you get the laughs too.  Or perhaps at least some soft core porn, since sex is usually a big part of most horror movies.

And there are so many horror flicks to choose from.  You have ones based on Stephen King books, like Carrie, Children of the Corn and that mini series with that really scary clown dude…hold on, I will think of It

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And classic slasher films.  Who doesn’t love Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the escapades of goofy old Michael Myers?

Or perhaps your bag is more dark fantasy, and you get in the mood for some Horns!

At any rate, there are lots of good horror movies out there.  And after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to write a blog post, listing my top ten horror movies.  It took a few tries, but I have whittled it down to ten, so here goes nothing!

Reminder:  this is one blogger’s opinion only.  I am aware that I probably left your favorite movie off, but I really don’t care.  And if you are going to roast me, go with slow heat, the flavors will be more developed that way.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


10.  Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Well, we all have to start somewhere, right?

And my somehow happened to be a movie where people died.

Lots of people died, in fact.

And in really inventive ways.

And klowns were responsible.  Killer Klowns.  And these Killer Klowns were from outer space!

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If I remember correctly, Killer Klowns from Outer Space was the first horror movie that I watched.  And it set the stage for me.

Yes, the movie is just ridiculous.  I mean, cotton candy somehow became a weapon…c’mon, man!

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And acting?  What acting?  Although, to be fair, it didn’t require much acting to die at the hands of the Killer Klowns who killed in inventive ways.

Shortly after I watched this (alternating between sort of hysterical laughter and gross out noises that only a 12 year old girl can make), I began to explore horror, in both books and films.  I became a Stephen King addict.  I started watching Alfred Hitchcock too.

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And, as they say, the rest is history.

Killer Klowns should be labeled a gateway movie.  Because it was, at least for me.

It was a gateway.  A gateway into the horror genre.  And I can’t think of a better (or is it horrible) movie to receive that honor.


9.  Candyman

Often, horror movies deal with morality…

Ok, now that you are done choking on your coffee (or whatever other beverage you may be imbibing at the moment), let’s talk about this.

Of course, sex is a theme in a lot of horror movies.  There is a direct correlation to how many clothes come off and the proximity to home base and how quickly one dies in a horror movie, it seems.

But many horror movies deal with other kinds of issues that actually don’t have anything to do with teenagers having sex.

One of these movies is Candyman.

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The villain in this movie, Candyman, was actually the son of a slave, who had become a well-known artist.  However, the man makes the mistake of falling in love with a white woman, and (literally) all hell breaks loose.  He is attacked by a white lynch mob, which cuts off his painting hand and replaces it with a hook.  The mob then smears the man with honey, chanting “Candyman”, as he is stung to death by bees.

Of course, the man continues to live on, even after death, as Candyman. a spirit who can be summoned when someone looks into a mirror and says “Candyman” five times.

Since this is a horror movie, there is someone stupid  brave enough to do just that.  And lots of people get murdered.  Lots and lots of people.  So that’s disturbing.

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But the movie is disturbing for more than just the fact that a guy can come out of a mirror and kill people.  It turns out that 26 people, all of whom were residents of the notorious Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago, have been murdered.  And the police have put forth no effort to solve the murders.  Some of these victims are children.  All of the victims are African American.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  In other words, just turn on the news, and something similar will likely pop up at some point.  Maybe.  Tragically, many people of color are murdered in this country.  If the victim is lucky, the media acknowledges the murder, and someone puts forth the effort to bring justice to the victim and his/her family.  However, more often than not, just like in this particular movie, the crime is ignored.  Or worse yet, the victim’s so-called criminal record is on display, and he or she is vilified, rubbing salt into the wounds of an already grieving family.

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Race plays a huge factor in murder, the solving of murders and policing in general in this society.  Often, there is more than enough real life horror to go around, and a ghost with a hook is nowhere nearly as frightening as our fellow man.


8.  Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Often, the line between reality and fiction is blurred.

School shootings are tragically common in this country, and some shooters have stated that the Richard Bachman book, Rage, was their inspiration for the crimes committed, for example.

But what if a fictional character can somehow come to life?

I will admit, I spent a whole summer being frightened of storm drains after my responsible camp counselor took it upon herself to enlighten us about Pennywise the Clown.  So ten year old me spent a summer assiduously avoiding being in the bathroom by herself for too long, along with jumping at every shadow…good times, in other words!

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But luckily, Pennywise never came to life, and I was safe.  Although I still stand by my statement about never having seen my ex and Pennywise in the same room, but that’s another story!

Sometimes, characters that are created become all too real.  We mourn their deaths as we would the death of a friend or family member.  Or we shake our heads when a TV show or book character makes what we think to be terrible decisions, and we feel their pain at the consequences of those decisions.

Or, these characters scare into a change of pants, and they haunt our dreams…

Like Freddy Kreuger.

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The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise has become a bit of a joke, with all the sequels and even a reboot in 2010.  But when you get down to it, Freddy Kreuger is one scary motherfucker…and I will stand by that statement until my dying day!

The fact that Freddy Kreuger is believable is bad enough.  After all, guys murdering kids and our justice system letting them off on a technicality is something that happens, unfortunately.  And if I were a parent, I wouldn’t be above murder, in the interest of keeping my child and others safe from a monster like that.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare takes things up a level, and could be considered meta fiction, as Wes Craven and Heather Langenkamp both play themselves in the movie.  The movie also stars Robert Englund, who plays himself, along with an even more horrifying version of Freddy Kreuger.

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It turns out that Freddy is indeed real, and after Heather, because she defeated him onscreen.  And no one is safe, including her family.

Works of art can often have an effect on the creator, along with anyone else who may be influenced by that particular work of art.  This is a fascinating theme that New Nightmare explores.  The deaths are gruesome, and the entire film has a strange, dreamlike quality, which makes this movie even scarier than its “source material.”


7)  Freaks

It is no secret that people fear what they don’t understand.

As someone who spent much of her life being bullied for her looks and well…for just being herself, I have first hand experience with this.  I have had people makes assumptions about anything and everything about me, even questioning my intelligence, because of how I looked.  In fact, I had few friends when I was in high school, and did not even kiss a guy until I was 19 years old.  And most of this was due to my feelings of how I looked.  And I have come a long way, but even today, I am uncomfortable with almost any kind of comments in regards to my looks, even though no one has told me I am ugly in a long, long time.

In fact, I think I dreamed of joining the circus for a time.  But since that was not a practical solution, I did the next best thing:  I rented the movie Freaks.

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Freaks deals with quite a few hot button topics, but it really boils down to is one thing:  man’s inhumanity to man, along with the fact that you can’t really judge a book by its cover.  Oh, and karma is a real bitch!

This movie is controversial to some, because of how it depicts those who may suffer from disabilities.  However, when I watched this movie, the so-called “freaks” were the ones I rooted for, and the ones who actually behaved in a humane (well, sort of, given what they have gone through in their lifetimes) manner.  However, the so-called “normal” folks were the enemies, especially the beautiful woman who tried to trick one of the “freaks,” so she could get access to his money.

I thought of the “beautiful one” as one of the mean girls in high school who was only nice to me when she wanted something (like answers to the math homework) and who would talk about me behind her back any chance she got.  However, someone finally gave her what she deserved, and she got to take a walk on the other side…

Again, karma is a bitch!

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6)  Carrie

While we are on the topic of high school and the mean girls who rarely get what they deserve, let’s talk about the movie Carrie.  For clarification, we will be discussing the 1976 version.

I have mixed feelings about onscreen adaptations of Stephen King novels.  Some, like The Green Mile, are straightforward adaptations that remain almost word for word to the source material.  Others, like 1408 and 11.22.63, are not straightforward adaptations, but still remain faithful to the spirit of the books.  And of course, there are others, like The Running Man, that share little in common with the source material, other than the title.

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Carrie is one of those adaptations that fall into the second category:  it is not a slavish adaptation to the source material, but anyone familiar with the novel can still “see” the novel when watching the movie.  The changes add to the story, rather than detracting from it.  Additionally, the performances in the movie, especially by Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek, are outstanding, and bring the movie from good to phenomenal.

Margaret White

The title character in the movie Carrie is one many of us can sympathize with.  I also rooted for Carrie when I read the book and watched the movie.  And I understood why Carrie “snapped”:  there is only so much abuse one can take from her peers before she decides that enough is enough.  Carrie’s treatment at the hands of her peers cut me to the core, as I had to deal with bullying for most of my school career, and that bullying pretty much ruined my life for years to come.  And Carrie’s death was most upsetting, although I was glad that her bullies got their just desserts.

One of the changes from the novel in the movie was the ending.  Sue Snell (who had tried to help Carrie) dreams that she is visiting Carrie’s grave, which has been defaced.  Sue attempts to place flowers on the grave, but a hand suddenly comes up from the ground, grabbing Sue.  Sue then awakens in hysterics, and is seemingly still in the dream.

That scene gets me.  Every.  Single.  Time.

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5)  Jacob’s Ladder

My father was drafted during the Vietnam War and actually saw time in Vietnam.  We don’t talk about his experiences much, but, not surprisingly, Vietnam has been a huge shadow over my life.  I am also an 80’s child, so Vietnam is also a huge theme in many movies that I grew up watching, including Rambo, Forrest Gump and Full Metal Jacket.

In high school, I read Dante’s Inferno.  I was fascinated with the concept of Purgatory:  there is a stage between this life and the afterlife, where you are doomed to repeat all the worst moments in your life, before you finally figure it out, and move on to the next level, whatever that may be.  And some poor souls never figure it out, and are doomed to repeat their mistakes for all eternity.

The movie Jacob’s Ladder combines commentary on the Vietnam War, along with the concept of Purgatory.  The title character, Jacob, is troubled by horrible memories of his time in Vietnam, where he believes that he was drugged and committed atrocities.  Soon, he is unable to tell the difference between dreams and reality, as he begins to see odd things in his daily life that he cannot explain.  Jacob’s visions escalate, and he fears that he is going mad.

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Well, it turns out that Jacob is (literally) a lost soul.  See the part about Purgatory.  In other words, that creepy fortune teller is right:  Jacob is already dead.  He was placed in a body bag in Vietnam, but never accepted his death.  So he has been stuck in Purgatory and is haunted by his past sins.

It is only when Jacob faces the truth about what has happened to him, that he is able to move on.  He is led by his deceased son to whatever the next level of life is.  It is noted by the doctors that Jacob seems to now be at peace.

Like The Inferno, Jacob’s Ladder is a great metaphor for being able to let go and not hold on to something that no longer serves any purpose in one’s life (or afterlife.)  It also brings attentions to the horrors of war, and manages to still be a scary, effective horror movie.

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4)  Horns

Sometimes, we create our own monsters.  And the monster within is far more frightening than a bloodsucking vampire or a clown that lives in the sewers.

Horns explores the concept of the monster within in depth.  Based on a book by Joe Hill, this movie deals with many other themes other than “the monster within,” including family, friendship, first love and just who (or what) can be considered evil.

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One morning, Ignacio M. Parrish (note the initials), or Ig, wakes up and finds he has grown a pair of horns.  These horns are invisible (almost) everyone else, but Ig finds out that people will confess their darkest desires (and sometimes even act those desires out, having lost all inhibition) to him, as the horns seem to exude some sort of influence on (almost) everyone around him.

We also learn of Ig’s first love, Merrin, and that Merrin was murdered nearly a year prior.  Ig was accused of the murder, and no one in town believes that he is innocent.  For the rest of the movie, Ig struggles to understand what he has become, and to solve Merrin’s murder and clear his own name.  Ig also finds out that those he called friends and family are really anything but, and that he stands alone in his desire to bring justice to Merrin.

Horns appears to be a horror movie, and it is, but it is so much more.  It is a love story, a cat-and-mouse detective story and even a dark fantasy, with a lot of religious allegory.  In other words, a little something for everyone.

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3.  Burnt Offerings

Move over, The Amityville Horror  and The Conjuring.  There’s a new (well, not really) haunted house movie in town, and it goes by the name of Burnt Offerings.

Burnt Offerings may not be the movie one thinks of when anyone brings up the subject of the haunted house movie.  And that would be a grave oversight, as this movie is the movie I believe should represent the haunted house movie category.

In many ways, Burnt Offerings is your standard haunted house movie.  There is a nice young family, which includes the sweet old great aunt Elizabeth (played brilliantly by Bette Davis.)  The nice young family gets a deal for a summer home rental that is probably too good to be true.  The mother of the nice young family doesn’t listen, of course, and that spells doom for everyone.

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However, in many ways, Burnt Offerings is NOT your standard haunted house movie.  For one thing, ghosts are not a major of part of the movie. Instead, the movie relies on “real life horrors” (like a father trying to drown his child) and the house itself becomes a character, exerting its evil influence on the inhabitants.  The film also uses psychological horror, invading the minds of the inhabitants and terrorizing them with unpleasant past memories.

Oh, and before we move on to the next entry, let’s hear it for the chauffeur.  In other words, one of the many reasons I need to spend some quality time in my therapist’s chair, even as an adult.  He may have also been responsible for a soiled pair of underwear, but I can neither confirm nor deny that rumor.

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2.  Phantasm

In any horror movie, you have to have a good villain.  After all, a good horror movie is nothing without a guy (or girl, or creature) that you love to hate.

For a long time, Pennywise the Clown was that creature.  Could anything be scarier than a homicidal clown who lives in the sewers and eats kids?

Well, I think I found someone to give good old Pennywise a run for his money (or is that a run for his souls?)

Enter The Tall Man, the villain from the movie Phantasm.  Again, I can neither confirm nor deny a rumor that this man may also have been responsible for a pair or two of soiled underwear.

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Phantasm may be old (only a year younger than yours truly…yikes!) but surprisingly, it stands the test of time.  I watched this movie recently, and it scared the crap out of me all over again…yikes!

As I have said before, Phantasm is all about the villain.  The Tall Man is definitely someone I would not want to meet in a dark alley (and I will pass on his dwarfs too, thank you.)  However, I was also struck by the movie’s use of ordinary objects to elicit a sense of foreboding and outright fear.  I think I can rightfully make the statement that this the only movie I know of that managed to make a guitar tuning fork frightening.  Along with the inside of the funeral home, although those are pretty frightening anyway.  Even Mike’s bedroom was frightening, although that may have just been the 1970’s decor (something that thankfully has NOT withstood the test of time.)

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It should be noted that while I generally have no use for sequels, especially with horror movies  (Carrie 2: The Rage anyone?), I think that Phantasm II is also very good and worth watching, although it seems to be more of a continuation than a sequel.


And now, for my favorite horror movie of all time…

drum-roll-please

Poltergeist (1982)

Yes, I have chosen Poltergeist as my favorite horror movie of all time.  This may seem like an odd choice, but roll with me on this, ok?

Poltergeist, on the surface, is not your typical horror movie.  There is no violence.  There is no sex.  There is hardly even any swearing…I believe that the worst word someone uses is “damn”, and there are certainly no f bombs.  In fact, the movie is rated PG, which is, again, unusual for a horror movie.

In fact, at points, this movie could be mistaken for a Disney movie…thank you, Zelda Rubinstein!

However, Poltergeist is one fucking scary movie.  I will mince no words:  this movie scared the shit out of me when I first saw, and still continues to scare the shit out of me to this day.

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Like I said before, this movie could almost be mistaken for a Disney movie.  At first, the hi-jinks of the ghosts haunting the home of the Freeling family are sort of amusing.  Chairs move on their own accord.  Drinking glasses break.  Furniture cannot stay still.

But slowly, the hi-jinks become a little more sinister.  Carol Anne’s pet bird mysteriously dies.  And then is the matter of that tree outside the bedroom window that is not as nice as it appears…

Then, we get to disgusting, as one of the parapsychologists who pays a visit to the Freelings helps himself to leftovers one night, and finds out he is not eating chicken…

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Very quickly, things go from benign to sort of disturbing to outright fucking terrifying, as Carol Anne is kidnapped and trapped in some sort of alternate dimension, between the living and the dead.

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But the nice medium pays a visit, to help the family.  And Carol Anne is rescued.  Dad finds out that the house was actually built on a graveyard (more on that in a minute), and the family decides to pack up and move.

Case closed, right?

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Well, no.  The last 15 minutes or so of Poltergeist is the biggest roller coaster ride in any movie, as literally all Hell breaks loose.

Turns out, there is a technicality.  So…a forgetful person not only built the house on a graveyard, but kind of forgot to move…you know…the DAMN BODIES that were buried in those graves!

In other words, we are FUBAR, ladies and gentleman!

Of course, all ends well (except for that television set, but I can’t blame Dad on that one).  But the suspense came close to killing me the first time I watched this movie as a teenager…would everyone survive, or would the spirits win?  And even as an adult, those last 15 minutes get the old heart rate up…

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The other thing I like about Poltergeist is that it was made long before CGI was even an idea, so Steven Spielberg had to rely on other things to tell the story, like props, makeup, acting and oh yeah…good writing and storytelling!  There is a reason why so few movies after, oh say, 1995 are on this list:  CGI has made for lazy storytelling and has been responsible for the decline of modern horror, in this humble blogger’s opinion.

Oh, and a side note:  I may have referred to Pennywise the Clown quite a few times in this blog post, but I think that Pennywise would do well to bow down to the Poltergeist Clown, as I believe this clown should take home the honor (or is horror?) of All Time Scariest Fucking Clown in a Movie Ever.

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Well, that’s it for my all time favorite horror movies.  It was hard to whittle the list down to just ten, and I am sure a few really good movies were left off.  What it is it that they say?  Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, right?

So, check some of these flicks out if you haven’t already.  I promise you, none of them are as scary as that thing they call the Republican National Convention, but at least the makeup job on the villains is much better than the makeup job on Donald Trump!

BOCA RATON, FL - MARCH 13: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during his campaign rally at the Sunset Cove Amphitheater on March 13, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida. Mr. Trump continues to campaign before the March 15th Florida primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

And with that note, adios!  Happy viewing!

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Concert: My Review of End of Watch

So, the month of June is upon us.

And we all know what that means…

Yes, it’s my birthday month.  Yes, I really will be 38 years old (ugh.)  And yes, I accept donations of any kind.  I prefer cash, but checks are ok too…haha!

But, that’s not actually why this month is special (even if my birthday is pretty special…duh.)

No, the month of June is special because of Stephen King.

Stephen King

(Don’t forget, it is this blog, after all.  The Master trumps everything, even the birthday month of yours truly.)

And it’s not because of the book The Dark Half, which could be construed to be a book written about Thad Beaumont, the ultimate Gemini…but I digress.

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June is special, or has been special the past couple of years, because The Master has been releasing his Mercedes trilogy books the first week of June.

The fact that he releases these books right before my birthday (back to that again, yes) is a nice courtesy, don’t you think?

And June of 2016 is extra special, because we have the release of End of Watch, the third and final (maybe) book of this series.

So finally, we find out what will happen to good old Bill Hodges, along with his friends Jerome and Holly.

Finally, Hodges gets to square off one more time against his nemesis, Brady.  And quite possibly put this obsession to bed, one way or another.

So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of End of Watch.

As always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The book begins with a flashback to the Mercedes Massacre, which had occurred in 2009.  The flashback is told from the perspective of Rob and Jason, two paramedics who are called to the scene after a then unknown killer uses a stolen Mercedes as a weapon to kill and injure several people at a job fair.  One of the victims is Martine Stover, who is unconscious when Rob and Jason arrive at the scene.  Rob and Jason manage to save Martine from death, but it appears that Martine’s injuries have made her a quadriplegic.  Rob and Jason are saddened by the deaths and injuries, and hope that the perpetrator faces justice.

The book then flashes forward to January 2016.  Bill Hodges is awaiting an appointment with his doctor, when he receives a call from his soon to be retired former partner, Pete Huntley.  Huntley tells Hodges about his final case, which looks to be a murder-suicide.  One of the victims is Martine Stover, who was rendered a quadriplegic after the Mercedes Massacare.  Huntley tells Hodges that Martine appears to have been murdered by her mother, and that her mother then committed suicide.

Hodges picks up Holly Gibney, the woman who is his partner in the private investigation firm that he started after his retirement.  He then meets with Huntley and his partner, Izzy, at the crime scene.  It is confirmed that Martine’s mother used oxycontin and vodka to kill her daughter and herself.  Hodges thinks there is nothing special about the case, but Huntley believes otherwise.

Huntley tells of another murder-suicide that occurred the previous year.  Keith Frias and Krista Countryman were also victims of the Mercedes Massacre.  The two had met in a therapy group, and had planned to get married.  However, they committed suicide by overdosing on pills one day, and died in each other’s arms.  Holly notices a mysterious letter Z in the bathtub where Martine died.  Hodges and Holly are reminded of Brady Hartsfield, the man responsible for the Mercedes Massacre.  Hartsfield was stopped by Holly and Hodges, but not before he was able to manipulate several people into committing suicide.  One of these victims was Olivia Trelawney, Holly’s cousin and the owner of the Mercedes used in the murders.  Hartsfield was able to steal the vehicle and use it to murder several people, and was also able to manipulate Olivia into committing suicide.

On the drive back to the office, Holly voices her suspicions to Hodges.  She tells him that she investigated the upstairs room to the house, and discovered a computer.  The computer contained no indication that either Martine or her mother had ever researched suicide.  Holly also finds a Zappit, which is an electronic device used for playing games.  She and Hodges both feel that this is odd, as neither woman was an expert on gadgets.  Holly says that she will be tracking down Nancy Alderson, the housekeeper employed by Martine Stover and her mother, in the hopes that the housekeeper can shed some light on the mystery.

Hodges is able to speak to Nancy Alderson, the housekeeper for Martine and her mother.  Nancy is extremely surprised by the deaths of Martine and her mother, telling Hodges that Martine had accepted her condition, and that she also got along well with her mother.  Nancy also sheds light on the mystery of the Zappit, telling Hodges that the gadget was a gift for filling out a questionnaire.  It is also revealed that a mysterious man in a parka had been seen around the house, and that he would look into the windows of the house.

Holly and Hodges have lunch that day.  Hodges points out that the Zappit is actually an outdated piece of technology, and that Martine may have fallen victim to a scam.  Hodges also checks out the house across the street from Martine Stover, and discovers the casings to a pair of binoculars, indicating that someone may have been watching Martine and her mother.  Hodges also finds a letter Z carved into the wall of the garage.  Someone driving down the street in a Chevrolet Malibu is also spying on Hodges, but Hodges is distracted by a terrible pain in his knee and his stomach, and is reminded of his doctor’s appointment that he has rescheduled for the next day.

That night, Hodges speaks to Holly and schedules a meeting with her and Huntley, before his doctor’s appointment.  Hodges’ health also appears to worsen, as he vomits blood later that night.  Hodges becomes extremely worried about his future.

Meanwhile, something strange occurs at the hospital where Brady Hartsfield is a patient.  Brady is thought to be comatose, but speaks to Nurse Valdez, badly startling her.

Earlier that day, a nurse named Ruth Scapelli had paid a visit to Brady Hartsfield.  Nurse Scapelli had expressed her disdain for Brady by twisting his nipples, as she believed that Brady had given her an obscene gesture earlier.  Nurse Scapelli is paid a visit that night by Dr. Barbineau, Brady’s doctor.  Barbineau tells Nurse Scapelli that he knows of her earlier actions, and that she will face consequences for them.  After Dr. Barbineau leaves, Nurse Scapelli receives a visit from what appears to be Brady Hartsfield.  Brady appears to flicker in and out of existence, but starts to convince Nurse Scapelli that she is worthless, and that no one will help her now that she caught breaking the rules.

Later that night, Hodges is unable to sleep, so he gets up and turns on his computer.  He discovers he has a message on program called Debbie’s Blue Umbrella, which is the program that he had used to talk to Brady Hartsfield.  The message is from someone named Z-Boy, and simply states;  He’s not done with you yet.

Hodges and Holly meet with Huntley and Izzy the next morning.  The meeting does not go well, as Izzy is upset that Holly took the Zappit from the scene, possibly compromising evidence.  Huntley and Izzy also feel that the investigation should be closed as a murder suicide.  This upsets Holly, but Hodges comforts her, telling her that they are done with the case yet, as he hurries to his doctor appointment.

At his doctor appointment, Hodges receives some terrible news:  he has been diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, and learns that he may only live for another year.  His doctor urges him to see a specialist right away, but Hodges declines, saying that he needs to think things through first.

The body of Ruth Scapelli is discovered later that day.  Nurse Scapelli’s daughter had contacted the police earlier, after receiving a strange email from her mother.  The cause appears to be suicide, but there is a letter Z written in blood on the floor.

We also learn that Brady Hartsfield has been given experimental drugs by Dr. Babineau, in the hopes that Brady will regain consciousness at some point.  Dr. Babineau does not have much hope for his patient, and eventually stops giving him the medication, as it appears that Brady is still in a vegetative state.

However, Brady has regained some form of consciousness, and is aware of the actions of the doctors and nurses in his hospital room.  Brady has also gained some form of telekinesis, as he is able to move objects without touching them.

One day, Brady discovers another PSI ability:  he has the ability to switch consciences with other people.  In other words, he can momentarily take over the minds of other people, in certain instances.  Brady realizes that he needs to practice using his new abilities, and alerts the doctors and nurses that his head hurts, along with asking for his mother.

After Hodges discovers the message on his computer, he returns to work and hides his cancer diagnosis from Holly.  Hodges and Holly discuss Brady Hartsfield.  Hodges believes that Brady is not actually unconscious, and may have somehow convinced a nurse to commit suicide.  Hodges decides that he will pay another visit to Brady, and Holly urges him to be careful, as she believes that Brady may now be gifted with PSI abilities.

While Hodges riding the bus to the hospital where Brady is a patient, he is preoccupied with thoughts of his health, and does not notice the Chevrolet Malibu, or the old man in a parka who appears to be watching him.

Holly suspects that Hodges is not telling the truth about his health, and sneaks a peek at his computer files while he is gone.  She finds out that he has terminal cancer, and becomes very upset.

Hodges also receives a call from his former partner Huntley, who informs him that the Zappit may have a virus on it, as it is not functional, and there is no way that Martine Stover or her mother could have used it.  Huntley also tells Hodges to stop badgering him and his partner Izzy, as his input is no longer wanted.

While Hodges is on his way to the hospital, his neighbor, 16 year old Barbara Robinson (sister of Jerome) has made her way into a dangerous part of town.  Barbara is African American, but feels she has very little understanding of her culture, due to her family’s relative wealth and success.  Barbara is also in possession of a Zappit device.  The apparition of a young man appears in a store window, and convinces Barbara to commit suicide.  Barbara steps in front of a bus, ready to do just that.

Back at the hospital, Dr. Babineau, who is actually under the control of Brady, informs Brady that Hodges has figured out what he is doing.  Brady becomes furious, but is still trying to convince Barbara Robinson to commit suicide, as she is associated with Hodges.

Barbara’s attempt at suicide is interrupted by the arrival of a young man who takes her Zappit.  Barbara becomes furious and tries to get the gadget back from him.  Barbara grabs her device back, and runs right into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Brady orders Dr. Babineau to keep Hodges out of his room, as he is flushed and does not actually appear comatose.  Dr. Babineau agrees to do what he can.

In the meantime, Tanya Robinson, Barbara’s mother, receives a call from the police, letting her know that something has happened to her daughter.

When Hodges arrives at the hospital, he is refused visitation of Brady, by Dr. Babineau.  Hodges brides an intern to take a message to Nurse Norma Wilmer, who has helped him the past.

Jerome Robinson, who is in Arizona volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, receives a call from Holly, who tearfully informs him of Hodges’ cancer diagnosis.  Jerome also receives a call from his mother, who tells him that something has happened to his sister Barbara.

Hodges meets with Nurse Wilmer, and agrees to meet her for a drink.  Hodges then receives a call from Tanya Robinson, and rushes back to the hospital.

At the hospital, Hodges finds that Barbara has a broken leg, but is not otherwise severely injured.  She also tells Bill that the young man pushed her out of the way of the oncoming vehicle, preventing a much worse injury, maybe even saving her life.  Hodges makes contact with the police station where the young man is being held, so that he may question him about the incident.

Hodges receives a call from Holly, who is upset and confesses to her snooping regarding his health.  Holly picks up Hodges, and together they head to the police station to talk to the young man who may have saved Barbara Robinson’s life.

Holly and Hodges learn the name of the young man who was responsible for saving Barbara’s life:  Dereece Neville.  Dereece is also a star athlete and a good student, and will likely go to college on a scholarship.  The police have told him that he is free to leave, but he has elected to stay at the police station until he finds out that Barbara is all right.

When Hodges speaks to Dereece, he confirms that Barbara was carrying a Zappit device.  Dereece though that Barbara was under the influence of some substance, but tells Hodges that Barbara appeared to return to her normal self once the Zappit device was taken away from her.

Later on, Hodges meets Nurse Wilmer for a drink.  The nurse agrees to see if she can find Brady’s so-called visitor list for Hodges, and tells Hodges that she thinks that Dr. Babineau may be experimenting on Brady.  She also confesses that she and some of the other nurses believe that Brady can move objects with his mind.

Holly visits Barbara at the hospital.  Barbara confesses to Holly that she has been feeling depressed, as she has experienced harassment at school and other places due to the fact that she is African American.  She also tells Holly that a strange man gave her the Zappit for filling out a questionnaire.  Barbara tells Holly that she has heard of the voice of a young, who convinced her to commit suicide.  Barbara also tells Holly that one of her friends may also have a Zappit, which could be dangerous.

At the hospital, Brady switches consciousness with one of the orderlies, named Brooks.  It appears that Brady is using Brooks’ body to hand out Zappits and spy on Hodges.

We also learn how Brady used the Zappit device to control the body and mind of others.  Once Brady discovered his ability to take over the minds of certain other people, he also discovered a game on the Zappit that had an hypnotic effect on certain people.  Brady was able to use this device to take over the body of Brooks and Dr. Babineau, along with other people.

Brady takes over the body of Brooks, and shows up on the doorstep of Dr. Babineau.  He attacks the doctor’s wife, and takes over Babineau’s body, which is younger and stronger than Brooks’ body.

Hodges visits Dinah Scott, one of Barbara’s friends, who also owns a Zappit device.  Hodges learns that Dinah obtained the device as a consolation prize for a missed concert.  The concert was cancelled due to Brady Hartsfield attempting to set off a bomb.  Brady was stopped by Holly, Jerome and Hodges.  Hodges takes the device from Dinah, so that he can possibly use it to track down more clues.  Hodges brings up the fishing game (the game that is being used by Brady to hypnotize people) and confirms that it does indeed have a hypnotic effect.

We also learn that Brady has bribed a woman named Freddi, one of his former coworkers, to accept questionable packages at a condo that has been set up for this purpose.  Freddi begins to suspect that Dr. Babineau is actually her former coworker.  Brady has Freddi execute a computer program that he needs for his future plans.  When he determines that the computer program works, Brady attacks Freddi so that she will remain quiet.

That night, Hodges receives a call from Holly.  Sunrise Solutions, the company that was giving away the Zappit, was not actually a sponsor of the cancelled concert.  Holly also advises to see Barbara, as Barbara is still suffering the effects of Brady’s invasion of her mind.  Hodges also receives a call from Huntley, telling him that Nurse Scapelli, Brady’s nurse who committed suicide the day before, also owned a Zappit.  Huntley also tells Hodges that Martine Stover’s mother had purchased a computer for her daughter, which is not the act of someone planning to commit a murder-suicide.

In the meantime, Brady has completely abandoned his own body and taken oven Dr. Babineau’s mind.  He heads back to Dr. Babineau’s house and speaks to Brooks, telling Brooks that he murdered Babineau’s wife.  Brooks is upset, but Brady tells him that he was hypnotized and unable to help himself.

Freddi regains consciousness.  It turns out that she is not dead, as her pack of cigarettes protected her from Brady’s bullet.  Freddi is hesitant to call 911, she is involved in some illegal activities.  She wants to leave town, but is afraid that Brady will track her down.

Early the next morning, Hodges receives a call from Huntley informing him that Brady has died.  The cause appears to be a suicide, via an overdose of prescription medication.  However, both Hodges and Holly are skeptical that this is the last of Brady Hartsfield.

Hodges places a call to the bankruptcy trustee who had represented Sunrise Solutions.  The attorney tells Bill that he received a call from someone calling himself Myron Zakim, who had bought several Zappit units when the companies assets were liquidated.  Hodges also speaks to Nurse Wilmer, who is skeptical that Brady committed suicide, and tells Hodges that besides himself, the only other person to ever visit Brady was an unrelated woman.

Holly returns to the office with Jerome, and she and Hodges bring Jerome up to speed on what has been going on.  Holly conducts some research, and finds out that there has been some concern over the fishing game on the Zappit, which seems to have a hypnotic effect on some people.

Hodges then receives a call from Huntley, informing him of the murder of Dr. Babineau’s wife.  Huntley also tells Hodges that Brooks has confessed to the murder, and appears to be under the influence of someone or something.  Huntley confirms that the pills found in Brady’s mouth were not ones that he was prescribed, and that there are questions as to how he was able to obtain them.

While inspecting the Zappit, Jerome falls under a trance, and tells Holly and Hodges that he is viewing his own funeral, which is beautiful.

We learn that Brady is using his newfound abilities, along with the program created by Freddi, in order to induce mass suicide.  He tries to invade the mind of a young woman named Ellen, but she is unsuccessful in her suicide attempt, which frustrates Brady.

Holly is able to bring Jerome out of his trance state.  Hodges deduces that Brady is behind it somehow, and that he distributed the devices to the young girls who attended the concert as a form of revenge.  Holly also discovers that there is a new program on the devices that has just become active, and it appears to be a program that encourages people to commit suicide.  Hodges then attempts to trace the source of the program, so that it can be destroyed.

Brady reminisces about how he came to control Dr. Babineau, by blackmailing him (after he had taken over Brooks’ consciousness) in regards to the experimental drugs that were being given to Brady.  Brady uses Dr. Babineau’s body, along with his money, to carry out his plan to induce mass suicide.

Freddi attempts to crash Brady’s mass suicide program but is unsuccessful.  Brady figures out that she is still alive, and becomes furious.

Hodges, Holly and Jerome connect Freddi to Brady, as they spoke to her when they were previously investigating the Mercedes Massacre.  They track Freddi to her apartment, where she is packing her bags, in an attempt to leave town. Jerome discovers the device that is sending the signals to the Zappit devices that Brady purchased, and destroys the device.  Freddi also tells Hodges and his friends that Brady is not dead, and they learn the story of how Freddi came to be involved with Brady and his plan.

In the meantime, a young gay man commits suicide in front of his father, while he is under the influence of Brady Hartsfield.

Holly begs Hodges to shut down the suicide website that has now infected several Zappit devices.  Hodges places some phone calls to the police department, and finds out that Huntley has officially retired from his duties as a police officer.  Hodges is only able to speak to Izzy, who reluctantly agrees to help.  Hodges deduces that Dr. Babineau/Brady may have headed to Dr. Babineau’s vacation home, and makes plans to head there too.

An overweight young woman commits suicide by overdosing on pills, while she is under the influence of Brady.

Hodges and Holly head to Babineau’s cabin, leaving Jerome behind, as they do not want him to be involved in what could potentially be a messy situation.  Hodges and Holly learn of three more suicides that Brady likely had a hand in.

Holly and Hodges arrive on the property and are almost immediately accosted by Brady.  Brady forces Hodges to play the fishing game on the Zappit, telling him that if he scores a certain number of points, he will allow Holly to live.  As Hodges plays the game, he feels Brady invading his mind.

Hodges fights Brady, hitting his face with a ceramic pen holder.  Brady then fires his gun, and shoots Hodges in the shoulder.  Holly regains consciousness, and begins shooting at Brady with her gun.  However, she is unable to get a clear shot, and Brady gets away from her.

However, Brady is not able to run far, as Jerome comes to the resuce in a Sno-Cat.  He tells Holly and Hodges that Barbara told him to come help them, as she thought Brady would kill them.  Jerome runs over Brady with the vehicle, but that does not kill him.  Brady begs for mercy, and Jerome shoots him.  Hodges receives a text message from his daughter wishing him a happy birthday, and passes out.

A few days later, Hodges, Holly, Huntley, Barbara and Jerome celebrate Hodges birthday at the hospital.  Huntley tells of several more suicides and suicide attempts that have occurred due to Brady’s program, but thinks that the situation will be under control soon.  Hodges has begun his cancer treatments, although the prognosis is not good.  However, his friends still have hope for him.

Eight months later, Hodges loses his battle with cancer.  A funeral is held.  Hodges’ company was left to Holly, who hires Huntley so that the detective work can continue.  Jerome and Holly decide to attend a movie, and leave an empty seat between them, so that they may remember their friend.


My Thoughts

Oh, so much to say, and so few words to say it in, unless I want the word count to be sky high in this post…the struggle is real, yo!

In the past, I have thought of the books in the Mercedes trilogy as Bachman books.

As we all know, Bachman faked his death from cancer of the pseudonym, and really works as a guy who drives a funny looking motorcycle and helps out Jax and his friends on the Sons of Anarchy level of the Tower.  Oh, and he likes to take macabre souvenirs…

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And I still think of these books as Bachman books, make no mistake about it.

However, End of Watch had much more of a Stephen King flavor, if you will.

For one thing, there was the supernatural element.

Typically, most of Bachman’s work does not contain anything supernatural. Books like Rage, Roadwork, The Long Walk and so forth are about human fuckery, as opposed to haunted hotels, sewer dwelling clowns, evil shop owners and the long list of other supernatural pests that haunt the King universe.  Human fuckery does play a part in most if not all of King’s work, but there is usually a supernatural backdrop.  Not so in the Bachman universe, as most of his stories can be considered “real world” stories.

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End of Watch still had a “Bachman flavor.”  In other words, we had the real world:  a murderer at large, who posed a threat to a lot of people.

However, enter the supernatural.  The murderer (Brady) now possesses supernatural powers, which make him even harder to stop.  And no, this is not King taking the easy way out, and writing what he knows.  The fact that Brady acquired PSI abilities made the story that much more interesting, and provided that much more suspense, as Hodges and everyone else needed to figure out what was going on in order to put a stop to Brady.

In other words, we have King doing what he does best:  writing a damn good story that we don’t want to put down, until we finish it.

For the record, I should stop being surprised by Sai King.  He may write about the supernatural or the fantastic, but he constantly weaves “real world” issues into his stories, even if they are horror stories.  In The Drawing of the Three, we get a discussion on mental illness, along with racism.  In Insomnia, we discuss aging and how our society treats it (not kindly, for the most part.)  In Misery, we glimpse how fiction can have a huge impact on the reader, and the writer as well.  A novel like The Gunslinger could be considered a good metaphor for addiction.  I could go on.  And on…

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End of Watch is no different.  I was pleasantly surprised at the glimpse I got into Barbara Robinson’s life.  Barbara may have looked like she had everything under control, and had everything a person (or a teenage girl, at any rate.)  But appearances are deceiving, and Barbara is no different.  I understand the pain of not having a peer group quite well, as I don’t find too many other nerds I can relate to (although the internet is wonderful.)  Now, this is not the same a Barbara’s pain, as she is the only African American in her school.  But my heart broke for her when she described how she was treated when she went out on a date with a white boy, and I understood the feeling of disconnect quite well.  Often, we don’t really know what a person may be going through at any one moment, and that someone can appear outwardly happy, but that person is really experiencing a great deal of pain inside.  And this is probably the case more often than not.

King’s description of Barbara Robinson and her inner battles was probably not “necessary” to the story, but it sure did add a great deal of depth to the story.  And that is why King is The Master.

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And we have the character of Holly, who has turned out to be one of King’s most fascinating characters, in this little old blogger’s humble opinion.

With Holly, King has created a strong female character.  And one who we can relate too, as Holly is not perfect.  I would guess that Holly is somewhere on the autism spectrum, given her quirks.  Holly has also suffered her share mental health issues, as she candidly talks about her suicide attempts.

I love how Holly, over the three books, has broken free from her prison.  In Mr. Mercedes, she is almost a minor character, at least at first.  However, she becomes a major player in the chase for Brady, and saves the day at the end, by hitting him on the end.  This allows Holly to stand up to her non-supportive family, and start living life on her terms.

In Finders Keepers, Holly continues to be an integral part of Hodge’s team and life.  She uses her smarts and computer skills to help track down the bad guys, and also keeps Hodges at least somewhat grounded, as she looks after him, in almost the same way that spouse would.

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And in End of Watch, Holly continues to shine.  She talks to Barbara after her suicide attempt, and is the only able to get Barbara to open up (this really was one of the most beautiful moments in the book.)  She fights Brady again.  And she will be responsible for the continuation of Hodges’ legacy, as she the business has been left in her (more than) capable hands after his death.

Will Holly continue to be a presence in the Stephen King universe?  Hopefully, us Constant Readers will be so lucky as to catch another glimpse of her.  But only time will tell.

Then, there is the ending, along with the build-up to said ending.

So let’s talk about that.

Now, when I first heard the title of the final novel in the Mercedes trilogy (which I had to look up the meaning of…gotta love Google!), I cautioned myself not to take anything too literally.

“End of watch” is police-speak for the death of an officer, but this is Stephen King.  He is always full of surprises, right?  The title could mean anything, so don’t read too much into it, right?

Well, sometimes we need to take things literally.  The title to the final book in this trilogy is meant to be taken literally: it is the end of watch for our beloved Bill Hodges.

I was somewhat reminded of this season of Arrow, in fact.  At the beginning of the season, Damian Darhk tells Lance that he will kill his daughter if Lance does not comply.

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And the show teased a funeral of a major character, from the first episode of the season.

But I told myself not to take things too literally.  After all, anything could happen, right?

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Well, it turned out that Darhk’s threat could in fact be taken at face value.  Laurel Lance, aka the Black Canary, was killed, and Damian Darhk was in fact responsible for her death.  In other words, he carried through on his threat.

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And Stephen King also carried through on his threat, with the death of Hodges.  Seriously, the man likes to kill off main characters.  Maybe the tears of his readers provide seasoning for his food?  Well, I guess that’s one way of making sure that chicken turns out right…kill off a major character, and use the tears from your readers as seasoning.  Works every time!

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The second I found out that Hodges had pancreatic cancer (and you know you had to read up until that point to find out what was the matter with him, because, like Holly, you didn’t buy the whole ulcer theory), it felt like I found out that a friend or family member had terminal cancer.

Because that is what Stephen King characters do:  they become friends, or maybe even family.  And finding out that your friend or family member has terminal cancer is hard.  In fact, my heart felt heavy the day I finished reading that part of the book.  And I thought to myself that maybe the title can be taken literally, even though I still held on to a thin thread of hope that somehow Hodges would conquer his cancer.

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Finding out that Hodges had cancer also made the story that much more tense and suspenseful.  I knew that Hodges was ill, but I still wanted him to have the satisfaction of defeating Brady.  Ka is a wheel, as some other King character stated.  It started out with Brady, and it ended with Brady.  And if anyone deserved some closure, it would be Hodges.

I also feared that Hodges would die in his attempt to take down Brady.  And that ending would not have worked for, as that would have meant that Brady would have still won, even if Brady himself died.

But my man did not let me down.  Even while in the grip of terminal cancer, Hodges (and his friends) still managed to kick some major ass.  So Hodges won, and Brady lost.

The last chapter in the book made my eyes just a little bit leaky (seriously, what is wrong with my plumbing these days?)

I had hope that Hodges could beat cancer as well, but deep down, I knew that hope was futile.  But still, there was that tiny glimmer.

So I was saddened at the end, although not too surprised.  Hodges passed on to the clearing at the end of the path.

Holly and Jerome did something beautiful to remember their friend, by placing a popcorn box in an empty seat at the movie theater.

In other words, they saved him a seat.  And that’s what you always do for your friends, as they will always be there, right by your side.  In life and death.

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So this concludes The Mercedes trilogy.  To paraphrase a certain famous King character, ka is a wheel that comes back to where it started.  And that was the case for William Kermit Hodges.  He came back to where he started.  And he ended it in grand fashion.  A true gunslinger, right to the end.

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RIP, Hodges.  You will live in my memory forever.

That’s the great thing about Stephen King characters.  Somewhere out there, there is a Constant Reader discovering his characters for the first time.  And since they are always being discovered, they can never die.

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Join me next week as I review and dissect the underrated gem otherwise known as The Dark Half.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

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Connections

Just for fun, here are some of the connections to King’s other work that I found in End of Watch:

-Brady’s hospital room is room 217.  Room 217 is a room that has significance in the novel The Shining.

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-Brady awakens from his coma with PSI abilities.  This is similar to what happens to Johnny Smith in the book The Dead Zone.

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-There is a character named Brooks in the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which is a part of the collection Different Seasons.

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-Brady’s abilities are similar to the abilities of several other characters, including Carrie White, from the novel Carrie.

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-A pink Zappit device is mentioned.  In the short story UR (part of the collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams), there is a pink Kindle device that is able to access stories and books from alternate realities, along with newspaper articles from the future.

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-The song Don’t Fear the Reaper, by Blue Oyster Cult, is mentioned.  This song is also mentioned in the book The Stand.

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Penny Dreadful: Season 3 Episode 2 Recap and Review

Sometimes, things just go together.

Like peanut butter and jelly…

Macaroni and cheese…

Netflix and chill…

Jason Statham and well…anything…

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(Seriously, that man could be covered in tar, and I would still try to lick it off of him…yum.)

Eva Green and Patti Lupone

Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein…

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Vanessa Ives and the Undead…

Yes, I just watched the second episode of this season’s Penny Dreadful last night, in case you can’t tell.

And saw some interesting combinations.  I am sure some of them, like Jekyll and Frankenstein, along with Eva Green and Patti Lupone, will become instant classics!

Of course, some combinations, such as Vanessa and supernatural creatures, were not unexpected.  But still, these combinations (like Jason Statham covered in tar), were fun, and I definitely want to see more of them.

So, without any further ado, here is my recap and review of the second episode of season 3 of Penny Dreadful, titled Predators Near and Far.

And of course:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with Lilly and Dorian Gray, who make their way into the underground sex scene.  There, they rescue a young woman named Justine, who is set to be sexually tortured by a group of older men.  Lilly and Dorian shoot the men, and take the young girl back to Dorian’s mansion.  When Justine awakens, Lilly promises her that they will seek revenge upon the men who abused her.

Victor speaks to Henry Jekyll about his desire to transform Lilly into the woman he thinks she is.  Henry tells Victor that he is employed by Bedlam, a mental asylum, and is experimenting on his most psychotic patients, in a hope that he can find a cure for their ailments.  Henry brings Victor back to the asylum, and demonstrates his “cure” on a deranged man accused of conspiring to murder the queen.  The cure appears to work, as the man becomes docile and no longer raving, and asks for a glass of water.

Malcolm and Kaetenay continue on their travels, heading to America in the hopes of helping Ethan.  Kaetenay reveals to Malcolm that Ethan supposedly killed his family, and he has let Ethan live as a punishment.  Kaetenay then smokes something and appears to Ethan in some sort of vision.  Ethan is angered by seeing the old man, warning him to keep his distance, as he is being returned to his father and wants to seek revenge against his father.

The full moon rises when Ethan is in a saloon along with the bounty hunters who are tasked with bringing him back to his father.  Ethan speaks to an elderly Apache woman who appears to have ties to Kaetenay.  Ethan tells the woman to leave the bar immediately.  Shortly after, Ethan transforms into a werewolf and murders everyone in the bar.  He also receives some assistance from Hecate, who tells him that she has missed him.

Vanessa begins her sessions Dr. Seward, and tells her entire story, which is recorded on audio.  Even Dr. Seward is visibly shaken after Vanessa finishes her story, and tells Vanessa to do one thing that would be unexpected of her, yet make her happy, and report on it next week.

After her session with Dr. Seward, Vanessa makes her way to the natural history museum, where she listens to one of Dr. Sweet’s lectures.  She leaves him a note inviting him to attend a performance of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea later that night.  Dr. Sweet accepts, and the two have a pleasant evening.  Vanessa also invites Dr. Sweet to have coffee with her, but her declines the invitation, and tells her that he will see her again soon.  Vanessa is then followed by Dracula’s minions on her way home.

Victor sits on a bench outside of Lilly’s mansion, lovelorn and heartsick.  Lilly speaks to him, telling him that she does care for him, but that he needs to stay out of her way, as what she is planning will be dangerous.

At the end of the episode, Renfield returns to Dracula’s lair to give the creature his intel on Vanessa.  Renfield then begs the vampire for blood, and Dracula obliges.  Dracula is then revealed to be Dr. Alexander Sweet.


My Thoughts

This week’s episode was an interesting one, for sure (well, duh.)  But it was interesting for quite a few reasons, and most of them don’t actually have much to do with “horror.”

First of all, this was not an action heavy episode (except for the end, which we will talk about in a bit.)  I view this episode as more of a “bridge building” episode, as opposed to one that would really advance the plot.  And there is nothing wrong with that, as some more was revealed about the characters (never anything wrong with that!)

Rory Kinnear as The Creature in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 7). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_307_1030

And speaking of characters, let’s talk about Dr. Jekyll for a minute.

While we are talking about “interesting”…

First of all, The Hulk er Jekyll has always been a fascinating character, at least to me.  We all have a dark side, after all.  Usually, we are supposed to keep that dark side hidden, and it is not acceptable to unleash that upon the rest of the world.  But there is no denying that dark side, and that side can just sometimes make an appearance, whether it is “acceptable” or not.

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In pretty much every depiction I ever seen of this character, he has been pretty…well…white.  Not that there is anything wrong with this, just putting this out on the table.  And the reason for his anger is never made clear, just that he has evil urges that he represses.  And we are all pretty familiar with what happens:  Jekyll hulks out into Mr. Hyde, goes on violent rampages and nothing good happens when Hyde is around.  This particular story seems to serve as a warning to all of us about our dark side, i.e. everyone has one, even the nicest guy, and when it gets unleashed…watch out, that’s what you get for having anger issues and not dealing with them.

Well, this is Penny Dreadful.  And Penny Dreadful likes to take the “traditional” and stand it on its head.  You can always put a twist on something, even something that is classic, like the story The Strange Tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

And the show has done this by depicting Dr. Jekyll as a man who is half Indian, in turn of the century London.  Go big or go home, right?

This “change” (after all, this is a work of fiction and not immutable) has actually paid off dividends, even though we are only two episodes into the season.

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First of all, variety is the spice of life.  Nothing wrong with vanilla as a flavor, but why not mix it up a little sometimes, and add some spice?  Even turn of the century London didn’t consist of all white folks, and modern day society sure doesn’t.  So seeing other flavors on any television show is never a bad thing.

But (and this a big but) the fact that we have some variety on the show is not the only reason why making Dr. Jekyll half Indian has worked so well.

Being a person of color is hard, even in “modern” times.  However, being a person of color today cannot possibly hold a candle to being a person of color in turn of the century London.  Even though Dr. Jekyll is half-white, he is seen as Indian by almost everyone.  To add insult to injury, he is also an outcast in India, and would probably be seen as an Untouchable, just like his mother, who had a child by a white man and then contracted leprosy, which she later died from.

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So, Dr. Jekyll is marginalized.  He may be even more marginalized than The Creature or even the ladies on the show, as he cannot really fit in anywhere.  He has no place among the white folks, and no place in India.  Jekyll is educated and intelligent, with much to offer.  However, the best he can do is to work with the “other Untouchables”, aka the mentally ill.  Even there, no one respects him, and he has to remind people to address him as “Dr”, a title he has rightfully earned.

And what happens to someone who is marginalized?

Well, I would be pretty angry if I was treated like that and had my options in life limited because my skin color wasn’t “right.”

And it’s pretty evident that Dr. Jekyll is angry.  I could hear it when he reminded that man of his proper title.  I could also hear it when he told Victor the story of his background, and how his father discarded him and his mother like a piece of trash.

In other words, Penny Dreadful‘s version of Dr. Jekyll does not have unexplained “evil urges.”  He is someone who has been kicked around by life, and legitimately has a chip on his shoulder.  And that chip on his shoulder will (probably) emerge as Mr. Hyde.  And I am sure that Mr. Hyde will somehow buck “tradition.”  And I can’t wait.

I also need to give a shout out to the visuals on this show.  The first two seasons impressed, and it looks like the third season is continuing the trend…

The opening was probably my favorite.  The red Japanese lanterns against that ominous backdrop…can you get more ominous than that?

I also loved the vision sequence, when Ethan receives an unwanted visit from Kaetenay.  The desert against the dark sky…talk about surreal!

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So, let’s talk about this ending…

While I enjoyed this episode, it was a bit ho-hum…

Well, until the ending, that is…

We have been teased about Dracula for going on three seasons now.  Last week we got a voice.  And this week, we can put a name to that scary voice.

Dracula 1

And the name is…Dr. Alexander Sweet?

I know that I made the statement that with a name like that, Dr. Sweet had to be either a vampire, or vampire bait, at the very least.

Christian Carmargo as Dr. Sweet and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302_5122

But, still this came as a bit of a surprise to me.  Revealed this early on in the season?  Kind of like going all the way on a second date, eh?

(As a side note, I feel a little better about my own previous dating life.  Can’t say I dated Dracula, but I am sure I at least hooked up with his familiar a time or too.  Poor Vanessa!)

So, now we know that Dr. Sweet (appears) to actually be the biggest Big Bad of them all.  So what happens now?

I can’t answer that question.  But it sure has gotten interesting.

How long will it take Vanessa to figure out that her new boo is the bloodsucker responsible for the death of her best friend, Mina?  Vanessa seems pretty smitten with the new doc, so I think this may take her a while.  So far, she doesn’t appear to have noticed the wannabe fan boys who have been stalking her as of late, but she’s not dumb either.  So there’s that.

Christian Carmargo as Dr. Sweet and Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302_5057

And will anyone else, such as Dr. Seward, figure out what’s going on?  I am not sure that the good doctor entirely believes Vanessa’s story, but it looks like she may also be afraid not to believe it, either.  Not to mention that her secretary is now Dracula’s bitch…

in Penny Dreadful (season 3, episode -). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_302

Speaking of which, we have Dracula.  The biggest Big Bad of them all, as stated before.  Has he been working in a natural history museum (makes a weird sort of sense if you think about it, actually) right there, under our noses the whole time?  How long has he had Vanessa in his hooks?  Why is he moving in on her now?  Who else will he either murder or turn into a creature of the night in order to get at Vanessa?

Like Dr, Jekyll, I am sure that the show will turn the character of Dracula on his fanged head.  And again, I can’t wait to see what they do with him.


Well, that’s it for Predators Near and Far.  Tune in next week for the review and dissection of the third episode, titled Good and Evil Braided Be.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

 

11/22/63: Episode 3 Recap and Review

Origin stories.

We all have them, no matter who we are.  We don’t just wake up one day, and do the things that we do (like write this blog), without some kind of reason.  Or maybe several reasons.

And even the worst among us did not become the worst overnight.  Usually, there is something (or several somethings) leading up to becoming the worst.  Not even The Clown Prince of Crime became Batsy’s arch-nemesis overnight, after all.

joker and harley

And the same goes for actual bad guys.  Most serial killers have an “origin story.”  Not that there are excuses for committing acts of evil, but most people have something in their pasts that an outside observer can point to, and correlate that to a person becoming “bad.”  Even incidents that take place when we may be too young to remember them can end up having a huge impact on our lives later on down the line.

Certainly, most people would consider Lee Harvey Oswald to be one of the most evil people in history.  After all, he killed the president!  The assassination of JFK shaped an entire generation.  In fact, my parents were college students when JFK was killed.  I don’t have to talk about it much, but I know that this was a huge part of my parents’ young adulthood, just like the 9/11 tragedy was a huge part of mine.

And obviously, the JFK assassination was a huge part of Stephen King’s young adulthood.  So a huge a part, in fact, that he wrote an entire book about it, aka 11/22/63.  This book gives a fascinating account of the Kennedy assassination, time travel, the Vietnam War and quite a few other topics.

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One of these other topics is Lee Harvey Oswald.  Before I read 11/22/63, Oswald was only real to me in an academic sense.  Sure, I knew he killed the president.  So that made him a bad guy.  A really bad guy.  You have to be really bad to kill a president, after all.

However, I never had any emotional reaction to Lee Harvey Oswald.  He was just another historical figure.  My reaction to him was equivalent to my reaction to, oh say, a piece of tissue paper, perhaps?  A piece of tissue paper, in other words, really doesn’t elicit any reaction.  It is simply there, in much the same way Lee Harvey was there for me.  Nothing to get excited about, in other words.

Well, I then read 11/22/63.  And one of the things that I loved about 11/22/63 was the amount of detail it provided on Lee Harvey Oswald.  Somehow, the guy who writes about scary clowns was able to provide a stunning amount of information on an entire generation’s bad guy and turn him into a fleshed out character.  Suddenly, this guy came alive for me, and I could more easily connect with my parents and others over their generation’s boogeyman.

lee harvey oswald

In other words, we were given a origin story on one of history’s most iconic bad guys.  And this gave a new dimension to one of the events that shaped our nation, turning it from academic to personal.

Last night, I watched the third episode of the mini series 11/22/63, titled Other Voices, Other Rooms.  And I saw the onscreen version of the origin story of Lee Harvey Oswald, one of the most iconic bad guys in history.  And again, I found myself lured in, unable to stop watching.

So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of Other Voices, Other Rooms.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

Bill joins Jake on his quest to prevent the assassination of Kennedy, after hearing and accepting Jake’s explanation that he is a time traveler from the future.  The two men drive to Dallas, where Jake shows Bill exactly where Kennedy will meet his untimely end.  Bill tells Jake that he stayed in Holden due to Frank Dunning’s murder of his sister, but has nothing keeping him in Holden and would rather help Jake prevent the murder of a president.

Jake concocts a cover story that he and Bill are brothers, and applies for a teaching job in nearby Jodie, Texas.  Somewhat to his surprise, Jake is offered by the job by the principal Deke Simmons, and also meets the school secretary, a black woman referred to as Ms. Mimi.  Later that night, Jake and Bill go out to celebrate, and Bill becomes intoxicated.  The club the men celebrate at is actually owned by a man named Jack Ruby, and Jake’s plan is nearly put in jeopardy when Bill begins to tell of their plans to the club’s owner.  Fortunately, Jake is able to mitigate any damage, but is reminded again that “past pushes back.”

Jake settles into his job as a teacher, and two years pass.  His teaching job becomes a permanent position, and he seems to be enjoying it.  In 1962, Ms. Mimi introduces him to the new school librarian:  Sadie Dunhill.  Jake immediately recognizes her from their encounter in Dallas two years earlier, and learns that she is divorced.  Ms. Mimi persuades Jake into chaperoning a school dance with Sadie, forcing Jake to reschedule his prior commitment, which happens to be bugging Lee Harvey Oswald’s apartment so that he and Bill can listen to Oswald’s conversations.

Bill and Jake rent an apartment next to the one where Oswald will live.  Jake is reminded of what time period he has traveled to when he speaks to the racist, bigot landlord of the building.  He is also reminded again of the racism prevalent in the time period when he encounters Ms. Mimi on his way home at a gas station.  The attendant refuses to assist Mimi because she is black, and Jake is forced to give Mimi a ride himself, as no nearby gas station will help her.

In the meantime, Lee Harvey Oswald has returned to the United States from Russia.  Jake observes Oswald’s reunion with his family at the airport, noting that he has brought his wife Marina and their infant daughter back from Russia as well.  Bill and Jake also install the surveillance equipment at the new apartment.  Jake’s cover story is that he trying to obtain information on his soon to be ex wife.

That night, Jake and Sadie chaperon the dance.  Jake impresses Sadie with his dancing abilities, and explains to her that his ex wife made him take lessons.  However, much to the annoyance of Sadie, the night is cut short when Jake realizes that he must return to the apartment to gain information on Oswald.

The apartment is successfully bugged, but Bill and Jake are nearly caught by Oswald.  They are able to escape Oswald’s apartment, but barely, as the air vents they use to escape are covered in spiders and Bill’s screams nearly give them away.

At school the next day, Sadie expresses her disappointment in Jake, as his premature exit forced her to chaperon the dance on her own.  That night, Bill and Jake attempt to spy on Oswald, as George de Mohrenschildt, who Jake determined earlier to be working for the CIA, pays Oswald a visit.  However, the men speak in Russian.  Jake becomes frustrated, and hurries back to the school find a Russian-English dictionary.

Upon his return to the apartment, Jake finds Bill to be bloody and unconscious.  It turns out that the landlord has tampered with the equipment.  Bill and Jake then take back their ruined equipment, again realizing that the past does not want to be changed.

At school the next day, Sadie speaks to Jake in regards to his actions at the dance.  Jake apologizes, and Sadie kisses him.  Sadie then accepts a dinner date for that weekend.

Jake and Bill follow Oswald to a rally led by General Edwin Walker.  Oswald is accompanied by George de Mohrenschildt.  After the rally, Oswald becomes angered by Walker’s political views and has a physical confrontation with Walker’s guards, and also threatens the life of General Walker, calling him a fascist.


 

My Thoughts

The previous two episodes of this show were more action oriented.  We had the time travel itself, along with the past “pushing back.” And of course, the confrontation with Frank Dunning…how could we forget that?

11/22/63 EPISODE 103a Photo Credit: Sven Frenzel

However, this episode had a different feel to it.  This episode was more about character development.  And most of that character development was not in regards to the central protagonist, Jake Epping.

A lot of the character development focused on this story’s main villain, Lee Harvey Oswald. As I stated before, in the book King managed to draw a convincing villain out of someone who is mainly known through the history books, and possibly some interviews with surviving family members.  However, this is not the same as actually getting into Oswald’s head and actually understanding his motivations.  But King’s portrayal of Oswald as the villain in his book is the next best thing, as he is a character in a story.  Characters in stories have motivations.  They have feelings.  We may not always agree with a character’s motivations, but we can paint a picture in our head of that character, and come to an understanding of him or her, since we have the author to guide us to that understanding.

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And in this case, we have the mini series to paint a picture of that character.  So far, the mini series is doing a fairly decent job of this.  I enjoyed the scene at the end of the episode, where Oswald flipped his shit on General Walker and got in his face.  That would seem to me to be “textbook Oswald,” if there was such a term.  I would like to see more interaction between Oswald and his family, particularly with his wife and mother, as King treated us to in the book.  However, Bill did mention that Oswald was hard on Marina in regards to her clothing choices, so at least there was that.  And there will be another five episodes where we will (hopefully) get to know Oswald even better, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

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One of my main concerns about this mini series was how it would show Jake’s effect on the past, and the past’s effect on Jake.  This was a really important part of the original story, and should also be important to the mini series as well.

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And so far, the mini series is doing a pretty good job with the past overall.  I don’t even need to talk about the visuals (again) but I will say that they are great (again).  If I were to mute the TV and pretend that I had no knowledge of what I was watching, I could still tell what time period the story was supposed to cover.  The producers have taken care with every single detail, from the cars, to the clothes, to the music, to the dancing and even the store fronts we see on the streets.

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Speaking of the past…yeah…

This particular time period (the late 1950’s and early 1960’s) is often seen as something nostalgic, by both the people who actually lived during that time, and by the younger generation who only has the selective memories of the older generation, along with what is seen in film and television.  And 11/22/63 does give us a sense of nostalgia, with the music, clothing and so forth.

However, both the book and the mini series remind us that this time period was NOT all it was cracked up to be.  One of my concerns was that the mini series would not show this to the degree that the book showed this.

Well, my fears have been put to rest after watching three episodes.  In fact, the mini series seems to actually want to remind us of this fact more than the book does.

Jake’s interaction with Ms. Mimi in this episode is a great example of this.  The fact that Jake unthinkingly commits a serious social gaffe when he offers to pour Mimi a cup of coffee is one example.  The treatment of Mimi by the gas station attendant is another example.  If Mimi had not fortuitously run into Jake, who was the only one willing to help her, she may have had to walk many more miles before she ever got any help at all.   So yes, racism was (and still is), very real, and can have annoying consequences at the least, or the consequences can go from annoying to tragic at a moment’s notice (for example, if Mimi had been mugged or worse).  The past is often something that is not viewed objectively by most, and 11/22/63 serves to remind us of that fact.

Speaking of Jake’s effect on the past…

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The show reminds us that Jake does have an effect on the past quite frequently.  We have seen what appear to be some consequences of Jake’s presence where he “doesn’t belong”, and none of those consequences are good ones.  Jake already lost his surveillance equipment, and Bill got a bit roughed up.  And every time Jake does anything, like take away the alcohol from the jocks, help Ms. Mimi or even treat her like a human when no one else will or even when he turns a student on to English, I can’t help but think that someone somewhere will pay for that, and likely in blood.

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Jake is also being affected by the past.  He is forming relationships.  He has become friends with Bill and they are now co-conspirators.  He appears to be making friends at his job (I love the casting of Nick Searcy as Deke, since I am still mourning the loss of Justified.  Perhaps Deke is Art on the Justified level of the Tower).  However, and this is the big one, he is not just making friends…he has also fallen in love.

Justified meme 2

Not only is this episode an origin story for an iconic villain, it is also the origin stories of one of my favorite love stories in any book, not just a Stephen King book.  We have the beginning of Jake and Sadie.  And if their dance is any indication of what is to come, then I can’t wait!

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Now, I have not said a lot of negative things about this series, because I actually don’t think that there is a lot.  There is actually a lot to love, at least so far.  However, I do have one bone to pick…

And his name happens to be Bill.

Bill is a minor character in the book, and is only there for a few sentences.  I know that movies and TV shows will turn minor characters into major ones when it suits their purposes.  For the most part, I don’t have a problem with it.

But I just can’t stand Bill!

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There, I said it.

I don’t know if it’s because of his horrible accent.  Or because I know so little about him, especially compared to characters that would seem to play less of a role, like Mimi, perhaps.  Or Frank Dunning, who is already dead.  Or maybe it’s because he seems to be a stereotype, who comes off more like a member of Cletus’ clan, as opposed to an actual human being with feelings, motivations, etc.

Cletus 1

I understand the need for this character (see the part about internal Jake not really making for a good movie), but so far, the mini series has not executed very well on this part.  Could my feelings change as I see more episodes?  Possibly.  Could Bill die some kind of horrible death as the past has its way with Jake?  Um, no comment on that one…only time will tell (see what I did there?).


 

So that’s it for Other Voices, Other Rooms.  Join me next week for the recap and dissection of episode four, titled The Eyes of Texas.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

Top OMG Moments in Sons of Anarchy

OMG…Sons of Anarchy.

OMG…I get to see some icons of my childhood being bad asses.

Peg 1Theo 1

OMG…a member of one of the best bands in history had his character killed off.  Maybe that makes him even more bad ass, perhaps on a level with Optimus Prime!

Arcadio 1optimus-prime-death-01

OMG…Jax has 99 problems and a bitch accounts for at least a few of those.

OMG…another ass shot of Juice?  I can’t un-see that!

Juice 1

OMG…they just killed my favorite character!  Kurt Sutter, have you been talking to George RR Martin AGAIN???

Sutter and Martin

OMG…I just spent how many hours binge watching this show and now I need to clean my house, cook dinner and oh yeah, sleep since I need to go to work tomorrow as I don’t think Jax and co. can pay my bills, as awesome as they are.

Jax 1

In other words, I love Sons of Anarchy.  I just finished watching all seven seasons (seven!) over the space of about two months (two months!) and all I can say is OMG.

As in OMG, this show is so incredibly well written, with fantastic acting and I can’t really think of a bad thing to say about it.  Not one, single, solitary bad thing.  And the ending was heart-breaking, but soooo well done and soooo satisfying.  In fact, I can’t remember when the last time I was that satisfied…ok, to my husband (if you are reading this) I hope you know I’m kidding about that!

Jax 3

But seriously, Sons of Anarchy is one fantastic show.  And it was actually a cable show, which makes it even more amazing, as it can be difficult for a show that deals with controversial topics (racism, gang rape and spousal abuse are just a few of those tough subjects that Sons of Anarchy dealt with on a regular basis) to be amazing, due to the limitations constant, unnecessary censorship  that network television is subject to.  But somehow, the genius otherwise known as Kurt Sutter managed to make it work.  And he made it work brilliantly.

Crack_the_censors

And I think that the reason this show worked so well was because of the writing.  Charlie Hunnam, Kurt Sutter, Katey Sagal and several others did some amazing acting.  However, the fact that the writing was tighter than grandma’s butthole (sorry grandma!) didn’t hurt either!  Kurt Sutter always managed to keep us guessing, and threw in quite a few curve balls.  And he was not afraid to go for the jugular when it was called for…I really can’t recall when the last time was that a TV show made me gasp, cry and even laugh so much, oftentimes in the same episode!

Which leads to this post.  Sons of Anarchy, as stated before, pushed the envelope.  And pushed it quite often, sometimes in ways I had never seen before…

So I present to this blog post:  My top OMG moments from the show Sons of Anarchy.  No particular order or anything, these are just moments that stood out to me.  Some are tragic, some are simply gruesome and some are even funny.  But put them all together, and you weave together the incredible tapestry known as Sons of Anarchy.

Oh, and this should go without saying but I will warn you anyway…

Spoiler alert


 

The head in the chili (Season 4, episode 8)

Well, don’t eat before watching Sons of Anarchy.  That warning goes without saying…

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However, I don’t think I have ever had to warn anyone off of chili…until I saw this episode.

Yes, after watching this episode, the thought of eating chili may make you lose your head…

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In all seriousness, this moment in this episode is gross.  Really gross.  But also hilarious.  Bodily functions are hilarious.  And so are heads in a pot of chili.  In fact, heads in a pot of chili may be even funnier than bodily functions.  Alfred Hitchcock was known for inserting a little dark humor into his films, and this moment was a perfect homage to Hitchcock as well.  In fact, I am sure Hitchcock was looking down and smiling after he watched this episode (this show is actually so awesome that dead guys watch it too).

Alfred_Hitchcock

Chucky was also an odd character (in a great way), and it was nice to see him have a moment to shine as well.


 

Gemma choking Wendy and causing her to overdose (Season 1 , episode 1)

Sometimes, you just have to set the tone.  And the pilot episode to Sons of Anarchy certainly accomplished that.

Especially when one of the shocking acts was committed by a female.  And the victim was another female.

GemmaChokesWendy

Ah, yes…Gemma.  Referred to as “the matriarch”, she takes the role seriously.  Actually, seriously is too tame a word to describe the lengths Gemma will go to in order to protect her family, especially her son Jax, if she feels that anyone or anything is a threat to her family.  So maybe psychotic would be a better way to describe Gemma…

Gemma and Jax

And I am sure Wendy would agree with that.  Especially as she was on the receiving end in the first episode, when Gemma strangled her and injected her with heroin, in the name of protecting her grandson Abel, who was born 10 weeks prematurely, partially due to Wendy’s heroin addiction.

Wendy and Jax

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And Gemma’s actions certainly did the trick.  As in, set the tone for the series, and establish Gemma’s character, allowing the viewer a glimpse into just exactly what Gemma is capable of.

Oh, and Gemma’s actions also did the trick in terms of frightening Wendy, as Wendy stayed away from Gemma and her family for a couple of years…

Wendy 1

 


 

Clay’s Amen for Pussy Sermon (Season 6, episode 9)

Not only are bodily functions hilarious, body parts can be hilarious too.

And in this case, the bodily part in question is the vagina aka pussy (and no we are not talking about cats!)

Usually, its penises that are funny.  In fact, penises are just downright hilarious.  But I am equal opportunity I have a juvenile sense of humor and I am not ashamed of that fact   and firmly believe that kitty cats er vaginas can be hilarious as well. In fact, anything remotely sexual is just fucking hilarious!

innuendo

Which brings me to this moment:  Clay’s Amen for Pussy sermon.  As I stated before, this show is dark.  And it deals with lots of serious topics.  But the show is also funny at times, and Clay’s Amen for Pussy sermon is a perfect example of that.  And the fact that this scene takes place in prison church makes it even better, as it adds levity to a serious situation.  It is also unexpected…again, a prison chapel?  Who expects to have prisoner preach about sex in prison chapel?  I sure didn’t, which made this scene one of the gems in the series.

Clay 4

Also, the show has some funny characters (like Tig and Chucky).  However, Clay is not one of those funny characters, for the most part.  Hell, when I watched some episodes I wasn’t even sure if he had teeth, since he never smiled.  So it was refreshing to see a different, somewhat unexpected side of his character.

Clay 1


 

The Cleaner (Season 3, episode 3)

I love Sons of Anarchy.  And I really, really, really love Stephen King (who has been the subject of many a blog post and somehow made his way into some of my other non-King related blog posts, since he is that awesome).

So Sons of Anarchy AND Stephen King?  Is that a really nerdy, wet dream come true for me?

Stephen King

Well, actually yes.  The master did guest star in one episode of Sons of Anarchy.  And his character was true to form.  King played a weird guy named Bachman (I see what you did there, Kurt Sutter) who was hired by Tig to help dispose of a dead body.  And Bachman took part of his payment in the form of a macabre souvenir, and had a penchant for listening to 80’s music, as he took measurements and set up shop so that he could properly dispose of this dead body so no one would find out about the dead body…

Cleaner 1

Pretty creepy, huh?  Almost sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel, actually…

Cleaner 2

But seriously, this show has had many unexpected guest stars.  In fact, probably too many to count.  But I think one with my favorite writer deserves a special place on this list.

Cleaner 3

Oh, and apparently poor old Dickie Bachman did not die of cancer of the pseudonym.  No sir, he passed on to the Sons of Anarchy level of The Tower, where he listens to 80’s music while quietly disposing of dead bodies.

Rose


 

Otto removes his own tongue (Season 5, episode 13)

Oh Otto, you can’t blame the cat on this one, can you?

catgotyourtongue

Nope, only you are responsible for the loss of your tongue.  All felines have been cleared in any wrongdoing in this case.

Again, Sons of Anarchy can be gruesome (I am serious about that warning about not eating while watching this show.  Quite serious).  And Otto Delaney biting his own tongue off is certainly the textbook case of gruesome.  Really, if anyone were to actually write a textbook on gruesome, this moment ought to be included.

Otto 1

This moment also showcased Otto’s character, letting the viewer know that he would always remain loyal to SAMCRO, no matter what extremes he needed to go to.

Otto 2

Apologies if that last statement sounded tongue in cheek (see what I did there).


 

Jax and Tara make love in the same room as the dead body of Tara’s ex (Season 1, episode 8)

So you’ve just killed your former high school sweetheart’s asshole of an ex, who has been stalking your sweetie and apparently can’t leave well enough alone.  Now you’re horny and feel an urge to get it on.  And it looks like the weird, creepy guy who takes payment in blood-covered souvenirs is not around to help with the “cleaning”…what on earth are you going to do?

Well, getting a room is obviously out of the question, so you do the next best thing…

As in, follow the lead of these guys:

Jamie and Cersei 2

No, not commit incest!  Are you sick or something?

Not commit incest, but make love right there in the same room as the dead body, like most sensible people would do, right?

Jax and Tara 1

And maybe the fact that your boyfriend was the one who killed your ex (or rather, helped you finish off the job) is an aphrodisiac.  After all, when the urge strikes, sometimes you can’t fight it.

This scene is also memorable in that it sets the tone for Jax and Tara’s relationship.  Even early in their relationship, the couple is plagued by violence, and also by secrets that may come back to haunt someone later.  This incident is just one of many that will test the relationship, and make one wonder just how far Jax and Tara will go to protect one another.

SONS OF ANARCHY: 203: L-R: Charie Hunnam and Maggie Siff on SONS OF ANARCHY airing Tuesday, Sept. 22'rd, 10 pm e/p on FX. CR: Prashant Gupta / FX

The fact that my hero Jax Teller killed a man who coincidentally shared the same last name as my rat bastard ex husband is just icing on the cake.

Icing 1


 

Clay’s savage beating of Gemma (Season 4, episode 10)

In Sons of Anarchy, no one is safe.  This not only includes individual people, but couples too.  Even the strongest couples will struggle under the influence of SAMCRO, as loyalty to the club can test anyone’s bond.

Clay and Gemma 1

And those bonds include Clay and Gemma’s.  At the beginning of the series, it seemed as if that relationship was one of the strongest and could actually withstand the pressures of the club and the lifestyle that came with it.  Sure, Clay and Gemma had some volatile moments, but it seemed that they were a rock solid couple and would be able to work through anything together…

Until Clay tried to hurt Gemma’s family, by attempting to kill Tara, which resulted in Tara’s hand being injured and her career as a surgeon nearly being ruined.  And as stated before, no sane person ever tries to hurt Gemma’s family.  EVER.

Apparently, Clay never got the memo and tried to hurt Gemma’s family anyway.  And was then rightfully confronted by Gemma.  What followed next was a savage beating.  And it was issued by Clay to Gemma, instead of the other way around. Spousal abuse is always brutal, but this instance was especially brutal, as it appeared that Clay and Gemma were previously a loving couple.  The fact that Clay and Gemma were such a loving couple made this scene that much more emotionally crippling.

This scene was also a major pivotal point in the series.  Clay was traveling a dark path, but it seemed that there may still have been redemption for him.  However, this beating of Gemma foreshadowed the eventual downfall of Clay, in much the same manner as the fall of Claudius from Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, and the rise of a new leader in Jax.

SONS OF ANARCHY: Season Finale: L-R: Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal on SONS OF ANARCHY airing Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10 pm e/p on FX. CR: Prashant Gupta / FX


 

The death of Donna Winston (Season 1, Episode 12)

Everyone is expendable in Sons of Anarchy.  Everyone.  No one is safe, not even the innocent folks (as few and far between as those folks may be).

And Donna Winston was one of those few truly innocent people.  She was troubled by her husband Opie’s involvement with SAMCRO, due to the time he spent in prison on behalf of the club, but also stood by her husband.  She was also the mother to their two children, and was fiercely protective of her children.  In short, she tried to do the right thing.

Opie and Donna 2

Not only was Donna innocent and the victim of a bullet meant for her husband (due to Clay’s paranoia), her death was unnecessary.  Clay believed that Opie had betrayed the club, but that belief could not have been further from the truth.  However, Clay was still determined to have his son’s best friend and fellow member Piney’s son pay for his sins.  This backfired horribly, and the club and Donna’s remaining family was left to pick up the pieces.

Donna 1

In other words, Donna’s death set the stage for even more OMG moments on Sons of Anarchy.

Opie and Donna 1


Jax double crosses Damon Pope and uses Tig as bait (Season 5, episode 13)

When you’re a gunslinger  member of SAMCRO, sometimes you have to make tough decisions…

Roland 2

Sometimes, you have to throw your friends to the wolves, so to speak.

South Park wolf

But good gunslingers  members of SAMCRO know how to use trickery to their advantage.  And that is exactly what Jax did to get rid of his arch nemesis Damon Pope:  he used trickery.  And that trickery would have made a certain gunslinger proud, and perhaps even a little envious.  Oh, and this allowed Jax’s buddy to take revenge on the monster who burned his buddy’s daughter alive.  Oh, one more thing…this was another step in the downfall of Clay, and the rise of Jax as a leader, as the death of Pope was actually placed on Clay and not Jax (stealing your stepfather’s gun can be a good thing sometimes).

Jax and Pope 1

And Tig survived, which made me happy.  Jax may be my favorite character, but Tig would do in a pinch.  In fact, I could have seem fun with Tig, if he just gave me one night…hey, what can I say, he doesn’t judge, and people who don’t judge are just hot!

Tig 1


 

The gang rape of Gemma (Season 2, episode 1)

Again, Sons of Anarchy is shocking.  And violent.  Brutal, at times.  And one of the most brutal moments was the portrayal of the gang rape of Gemma.

Gemma Teller Morrow was one of the most complex female characters in television history.  She was tough, smart and charismatic.  Often, her actions left the viewer scratching his/her head, and sometimes those actions were more brutal than those of any other character on the show, including those of the male characters.  This is exactly why she was a fascinating, if somewhat unpredictable character:  she was capable of surprise, both good and bad.

Gemma 2

And this is exactly why the gang rape of Gemma was one of the most painful scenes in the entire series.  The viewer had seen enough of Gemma to sympathize with her, even if her actions were not always admirable.  The shows producers pulled no punches with this scene, including the build up, where Gemma was kidnapped by none other than another female.  The subsequent fallout and Gemma dealing with the trauma in later episodes, along with the reactions from the men in her life once the rape is revealed to them (as Gemma kept it a secret to protect the club before she finally cracked), were emotionally devastating…there is simply no other word to describe it.

Gemma 1

I’ve been known to ugly cry over emotional scenes in books, TV and movies, and this scene was one of those moments.  In fact, very few scenes in any book, TV show or movie have made me react this way.

ugly cry


 

The death of Gemma (Season 7, episode 12)

Building something on lies is like building a hut made out of sticks:  it may hold up for a while, but eventually the wolf will find it and blow it away like the hair on his chinny chin chin.

big bad wolf

And like the little pig that chose to build his house out of twigs instead of bricks, Gemma chose to build hers on lies instead of the mortar of truth.  And her house may have held up for a little while, but eventually the big bad wolf found the lies and the house was blown down, exposing its non-existent foundation.

Roland 1

Gemma murdered her daughter-in-law Tara in a fit of rage, and blamed it on members of a rival gang known as The Lin Triad.  Jax sought revenge, and things got bloody.  Very bloody.  However, the truth was eventually revealed to Jax.  And things go from bloody to tragic.  Gemma’s lie sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in her own death, at the hands of her one surviving child, Jax.  And the path Jax had been traveling was dark.  But when he murders his mother, that path becomes even darker, and Jax now knows that his fate is sealed.

Gemma 3

The imagery in this episode was wonderful.  The red and white roses, along with the blood spattered white sneakers, fit the theme of the episode so well, and also provided excellent foreshadowing for Jax’s fate.

Jax and Gemma 2


 

Now, I know I said that I was not ranking any of these moments in any particular order.  However, this blog post is about to prove that is a lie, as there is one moment that stands out to me and that I will never be able to forget…

So here we go…

drum-roll-please

 


 

Opie’s death (Season 5, episode 3)

Many members of SAMCRO made some tremendous sacrifices and suffered greatly, all in the name of protecting the club (Otto immediately comes to mind).  However, no one suffered in the name of protecting the club as much as Opie Winston, son of Piney and best friend to Jax.

Opie 4

Not only did Opie serve jail time for the club, he also lost his wife Donna due to the misguided actions of members of the club.  And the club was also responsible for the death of his father, Piney.  SAMCRO dealt huge losses to Opie, and he had every right to be hurt and angry.

Opie 5

And Opie was hurt and angry.  However, his loyalty to the club remained steadfast.  His loyalty was so strong that Opie made the ultimate sacrifice for the club:  his life.

Opie 2

For once, I have no words to describe the death of Opie.  Brutal and heartbreaking don’t seem to be nearly adequate.  Again, the show spared no detail, and I watched as Opie was clubbed to death in front of his friends, who were also helpless to stop it.  It was simply one of the most painful and heartbreaking moments I had ever witnessed, yet I was helpless to stop watching.  And this was yet another incident that provided some foreshadowing for the dark path Jax would travel down and his eventual fate.

“I got this.”  These are Opie’s last words.  Never has that phrase sounded so chilling.

Opie 3


 

And there you have it.  My top OMG moments for Sons of Anarchy.  I am sure I have missed a few, but this show is chock full of them.  And its chock full of so many other things:  humor, great characters, great symbols, witty one-liners and some awesome literary references.  But more importantly, Sons of Anarchy is chock full of great writing.  So if you find yourself whiling away a Sunday afternoon and doing absolutely nothing productive, at least while your afternoon away watching Jax Teller and his friends…you will have no regrets, I promise!

Sons 1